Brachypterolus pulicarius
Toadflax flower-eating beetle
(Coleoptera: Nitidulidae)

Biological Weed Control Links     Photos:

Brachypterolus pulicarius. Photo by USDA-APHIS-PPQ.

Origin: B. pulicarius' origin is in Europe with the origin of yellow and Dalmatian toadflax plants. The yellow toadflax "strain" of this beetle came to North America on its own and has spread to almost every where yellow toadflax occurs.

Life Cycle:
Eggs: Eggs are laid in the flower of the toadflax plant in spring (3).
Larval: Larvae hatch and eat the pollen and ovaries of the flower (3).
Pupil: The pupil stage is where they spend the winter in the roots and soil of the plant.
Adults: Adults emerge in spring and then lay
Over wintering Stage: They over winter in the pupil stage in the roots of the plant and in the soil (1).

Damage: The damage the beetle does starts when the larvae feed on the pollen and ovaries of the flower, then the adult feeds on the many shoots the plant produces (1). This beetle also has two "subspecies" or "strains": One is slightly smaller and tends to eat yellow toadflax, where as, the larger one tends to eat Dalmatian toadflax more often (2).

Host Impact: The most damage is when the larvae feed on the reproductive systems of the toadflax plant, and then the adults also feed on the new shoots the plant produces, slowing the spread of plant (1).

Favorable Releases: The yellow toadflax strain prefers to be released at locations containing yellow toadflax, and the Dalmatian strain likes to be released where there is Dalmatian toadflax.

Collection: They can be collected at basically any yellow toadflax infestation with a sweep net, picked by hand, using a vacuum (1), or, collect infested seed heads (2) and place these in new release areas (1).

Purchase: You can purchase B. pulicarius at various places by contacting your County Extension Agent, County Weed District, and visiting web sites such as:  .

Remarks: With toadflax everywhere, I hope that this, and other forms of weed control, will help us destroy this threat to diversity and food production in Montana and the United States.

1. Reese, Norman, et. Al, Ed., Biological Control of Weeds in the West, Western Society of Weeds Science, in cooperation with USDA ARS, Mt Dept. of Agriculture, Montana State University, and Color World Printer.

2. Breitenfeldt, Todd. Personal Interview, Biology Teacher, Whitehall Schools, Box 1109, Whitehall, Mt, 59759, (406)-287-5681, 9/1/99.

3. Hanson, Rich. Brachypterolus pulicarius [Online] Available March 31, 1998: .

By:  Jade Dean Robbins      Published by: Tressa Carey             1/3/2000